Creative Writing
Department Chair:
Dan Chaon

Administrative Assistant:
Suzanne Overstreet

Department Email:

Phone: (440) 775-6567
Fax: (440) 775-6677

153 W. Lorain Street

Oberlin, OH, 44074

Chris DeWeese

Chris DeWeese

Chris DeWeeseI grew up in the aisles of Melville & Company, a small used bookstore my family owned in Port Townsend, Washington. I remember finding a stack of worn copies of Field in the poetry section when I was a teenager. I enjoyed the postcard covers, the poem-centric size of the journal, and the uncluttered layout, but I especially loved the poems I found inside. These were poems of the imagination, of space and surprise. Now, fifteen years later, Field and the magnificent poets published through the Field Translation Series continue to inspire my own poetics, while the foundational appreciation for reading, writing and discussing imaginative works I developed as a Creative Writing major at Oberlin inform and inspire my own practices as a teacher.

I am especially grateful for the Creative Writing Program’s multi-genre focus. In addition to working on my poetry with Pamela Alexander, Martha Collins, and David Young, I was fortunate to take playwriting with David Walker and a number of prose-writing courses with Sylvia Watanabe. These classes not only gave me a toolkit of forms to explore on my own; they also influenced the way I wrote poems, the way I interacted with narrative, characterization, and language itself. Looking back, I also feel extremely grateful for the amount of personal attention that was a part of the Creative Writing experience at Oberlin. Meeting with David Young and Pamela Alexander while working on my Intermediate and Advanced projects was often the high point of my week! Some of those generous, wide-ranging conversations about poetry are still in my head now, almost ten years later.

After graduating from Oberlin in 2001, I spent three years as a performing member of the Incognito Travelling Circus, travelling around the country while continuing to write poems and fiction. In 2004, I moved to Western Massachusetts to attend the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. During my graduate studies, I was fortunate to receive a generous fellowship from the Oberlin Alumni Foundation. After several years as an Instructor or Lecturer at Agnes Scott College, Emory University, and Smith College, I am now back in Ohio after accepting a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of Poetry at Wright State University. My first poetry collection, The Black Forest, was published in 2012 by Octopus Books, and my poems have been published widely in literary journals, including Boston ReviewFenceGranta, Tin House and, much to my delight, a recent edition of Field.